I was intrigued to read a piece in Information Week this past January on desktop video conferencing and a recent rise in its usage. Basically, the article states the appeal for video conferencing lies with “improving employee and customer collaboration while reducing travel costs”. Another reason given was that video can be more useful than text or voice communications alone. I have to say that I agree with these comments as I believe the opportunity to see someone when you speak does add to the overall experience of the conversation. But ever since email was introduced to the corporate world there has been an ongoing debate to prove that true face-to-face communication is needed, the argument being that when people are in a group and can see facial expressions and body language, it prevents miscommunication and builds trust. But can’t the same results be achieved with videoconferencing?
In today’s world most everyone has a desktop or iPad and often use programs such as Skype and Facetime to stay connected with family and friends. So can’t video conferencing programs such as these easily translate to the corporate world?
With this growth in communication, I began to think about how this could benefit FTF and me. Specifically, how might video conferencing impact our training seminars? I think this is definitely an area that we will see growth in, but unlike online video meetings you may have with a client or colleagues, I’m not sure I’m completely convinced this is ready for the training home front. Perhaps if it were a small group being trained then it could work. However, when you have five or more being trained, the instructor might find it difficult to get a sense of the comprehension of the topic being presented by just seeing faces on a computer screen. In addition, the attendees may lose some of the networking benefits when there are no longer breaks throughout the day where a lot of great side discussions occur.
So, while I am all for change and see how advancements in technology are truly helping businesses grow and prosper, I still think more progress is needed in this area before you can convince me to bring our training seminars to the computer screen. But what does everyone else think? Would you rather experience a training course from your desk, or travel and sit in a live training session? I’m really interested in hearing what everyone thinks, so please share your thoughts!